1001 Albums: At Mister Kelly’s



Artist: Sarah Vaughn

Album: At Mister Kelly’s

Year: 1957

Length: 35:32

Genre: Vocal Jazz/Live



“There will come a day, youth will pass away,
Then what will they say about you? (about me?)”

So we hit our second live album of the list. I’m still trying to figure out why live albums were included exactly and why not just one of the artist’s regular albums. Why would the live album itself stand apart from the actual album? Is it because the artist itself is actually performing in front of people and actually playing as a whole group together without making any mistakes? Then why didn’t they just pick the live albums of every group? Is it because they wanted to include a particular group but couldn’t decide which album to choose so they basically chose a live album which plays as a sort of greatest hits of the band? I don’t know… but I am determined to figure it out and hopefully I will before the end of the 1001 albums… and believe me, there are many more live albums to come, this one is certainly not the last.

As far as live performances go this one is possibly the most laid-back and relaxed live performance I ever heard. Sarah Vaughn seems to make her way through the set with such an aloof attitude, singing each song in a care-free manner that if she were to mess up it wouldn’t really matter.

And she does. At some point you can hear her dropping the microphone to the floor in a big Whoops moment. What does she do? She picks it up, laughs it off and in her song, sings about how she flubbed up… what? That’s amazing! Never have I experienced an artist make a mistake and not give a solid shit. It gets better. She completely forgets the lyrics to the final song and instead of stopping or just humming, she makes up words. Yeah, she keeps singing (in what I have to say is quite a beautiful voice) and instead of the words of the song, she says how she forgot the lines and how Ella Fitzgerald sang it better than her (which is funny because Ella Fitzgerald is the artist of the next album… oops spoilers). And then because she has no idea what to say, she just starts scatting. yeah. She just scats to her heart’s content. No shits given at all.

I’m in love with this lady (sorry Sandra). Seriously though, it’s so rare to meet an artist who does that. Messes up but does it in such a fun, playful way that you don’t even care that she’s not even singing the song anymore. And it’s not like she doesn’t care in an arrogant way, she manages to pass it off as a tiny mistake that she is just having fun with. She messes up yet still manages to pull the audience in and keep them engaged despite it. Usually when an artist messes up, the audience is pulled out of it and taken out of the moment, which is never a good thing. She seamlessly meshes the mistakes with the performance and makes it look like it’s all part of the act, even though she’s blatantly saying she doesn’t remember the words at all. I am beyond impressed… she is truly a talented woman and thinks quick on her feet that’s for sure. Fucking bonus points to her.

But I think that’s really what makes this Live album stand out compared to most. It’s so laid back, it’s as if I’m just kicking back at a bar with a group of friends and enjoying the performance. This wouldn’t usually be something I would listen to but if I was in the right setting (a bar) with the right people (good people) and she went up to perform, I’d totally be into it, especially with all the humour she incorporated into it.

The best way I can describe it is like this: It’s a very Humble performance. When you get down to it, that’s really what it is, she’s giving us a down to earth, modest and humble performance. She doesn’t once come across as an artist doing her duty to perform for the lowly average man, she puts on the shoes of an average person and puts herself down to the level of the audience saying “I’m just like you guys”. Her mistakes don’t take away from her performance, if anything they humanize her and the way she plays it off in good fun supports that feeling even more. It’s like she’s saying “Hey I make mistakes too, let’s laugh about it and have a good time”. She never tries to hide the mistakes or come across as anything but a regular person and I think that is so refreshing because, especially nowadays, we see way too many people who scramble to make it seem like they’re perfect at everything and gods amongst men, you would never see their arrogance ever admitting to making foolish mistakes, of course not, because they want people to bow down tot hem and point and be like “Look how amazing this person is”.

Fuck those people, I have no respect for them. We are all Human, we all make mistakes, I know I do… I’m clumsy, goofy and an all around doof, I do stupid shit all the time. I laugh about it, I don’t pretend like they didn’t happen. You know what happened today? I farted and it smelled really bad. Someone came by and smelled it and asked me “did you fart?” Without hesitating I went “Yup”. Why pretend I didn’t? Who gives a shit? I don’t care, I’m taking responsibility for my own stupidity and at the end of it we had a good laugh about it. People are so concerned with their egos that they wouldn’t dare ever admit to doing something dumb because that would shatter the perfect, plastic persona they’ve been displaying. I don’t give a shit, I embrace the stupidity. If I look stupid then I accept it and laugh it off. It’s the best thing to do and honestly, you don’t come across as an arrogant cock (depends what the stupidity is as well… but that’s technicalities, what I’m just trying to say is, don’t be afraid of looking ridiculous once in awhile, that’s all).

Ok, I went on a tangent there and I know I’ve been focusing on this aspect of the album a bit much (you’ll be disappointed to find out it only happens on two songs in the whole album) but I seriously just fucking loved it, every time that happened I was so into the album and was listening and laughing and enjoying Sarah, every part of her (except visually). Everyone should look to this performance as a key example of what to do when you mess up.

Aside from that, the rest of her performances are quite nice. She has a great blend of fun and melancholic (depending on the song she is singing) and is able to go from one mood to the other very easily, without missing a beat. I don’t really know what else to say without repeating myself, but fuck I will anyway:

It was just an all around laid back and humble performance and that’s all it needed to be.

I think the words of the day are laid back and Humble, I said them so many times I should probably invest in a thesaurus. But honestly, if I did, then these posts probably wouldn’t be my natural voice and would become more wordy and robotic… wouldn’t sound like me any more now would it? HUH?!

Song of Choice: How High the Moon


Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco



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